Charles Daly

Writer

Category: Pens & Gear (page 2 of 2)

Pen Review: Kaweco Classic Sport

 

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

This week, I drafted my first short story in 2 years (more on that soon.) I wrote it with a new fountain pen, which I bought to mark the occasion: the Kaweco Classic Sport . (Pronounced ka-vay-co.)

I had moved away from short stories in favor of more profitable but less fulfilling work, and I had traded my beloved fountain pens for more practical alternatives I could pick up at Rite-Aid. This was my return to both.

From the first line, the Kaweco brought back the whole sensory experience I was missing.

On the page, the Sport is smooth and responsive. Off the page, it looks so good I’m waiting for the chance to say “here, use my pen.”

The Nib

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The soul of any fountain pen is the nib. It’s where 99% of the value resides. This nib is a workhorse that can compete with pens at a much higher price point. It’s decently springy for a steel nib–more so than the Lamy Safari anyway–and it doesn’t scratch or skip.

For fountain pen beginners, the Kaweco is very forgiving, with a large “sweet spot.”

Other reviews have noted a problem with railroading when too much pressure is applied. So if you’re into varying line thickness, the Kaweco might not be for you. My handwriting isn’t sophisticated enough to tell the difference.

 

The Ink

This is a small pen which uses small cartridges. I had my doubts about ink capacity, but my first cartridge was good for 30+ A5 notebook pages.

Here in Spain, the ink is cheap ( €2.10 for 6 cartridges.) The only places where I could find that price State-side were Jet-Pens and Goulet Pens. Expect to pay $6 elsewhere.

The Design & Looks

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

Capped, the Kaweco is small. It looks more like a lipstick tube than a writing instrument. But When the cap is posted (pen-nerd speak for putting the cap on the back of the pen) it becomes full-sized. This feature gives you portability without sacrificing writing comfort.

The flat sides of the hexagonal cap keep it from rolling around on your desk.

kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen kaweco-sport-clasic-black-fountain-pen

The clip is detachable. I tend to leave it off.

The price

You can pick up the Kaweco  Classic Sport for about $23. This is up from $15 in 2011 when playwright Jon Robin Baitz proclaimed his love for the Kaweco in the New York Times. He said the pen cured him of  a fear of handwriting that had followed him since elementary school.

Kaweco-sport-clasic

The Bottom Line

I would highly recommend this pen to just about anyone. You can’t go wrong with gifting this beauty. For a serious pen collector, it’s an outstanding day-to-day pen with a fun design. For the uninitiated, I couldn’t think of a better introduction to the world of fine writing.

However, if you have extra large hands, you may want something bigger for cramp-free writing.

Image: JetPens.com

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links. All Amazon prices and availability are subject to change, and only current as of the time of publication of this review.

Gear Review: UDT Fins

UDT stands for Underwater Demolition Team. These are the fins used by the frogmen of the 50s and 60s who preceded the Navy SEALS. UDT fins were state of the art in their day, and although the Navy has since upgraded their technology, the original UTDs remain a coveted piece of kit for bodysurfers and divers in the civilian world. I recently picked up a pair of my own.

udt-fins    

HISTORY

frogmen-world-war-2

In World War II, the Allies achieved victory through a series of beach landings in France, Italy, and the Pacific Islands. These landings were made possible, in part, by a small unit of frogmen who swam ashore ahead of the invasion to scout the beachheads and clear obstacles with explosives. They were armed with K-Bar knives and dynamite. Their losses on D-Day are estimated at 50%

.naked-warrior-statue-navy-seal-museum

The frogmen of WWII wore short rubber fins, similar to those worn by bodyboarders today. A  statue of a frogman at the Navy SEAL Museum, dubbed ‘the Naked Warrior,’ holds a pair of these fins.

udt-fins-frogman

After the war, the Navy developed the UDT fin for their elite divers. These were more powerful and better suited for use with SCUBA, which had just been invented. Around this time, surplus fins and civilian replicas became popular with bodysurfers in southern California. Legend has it that when the Navy discontinued UDT fins in favor of the Aqualung Rocket, an Orange County bodysurfer by the name of Dr. Greg Deets got his hands on the original molds and started making them himself.

udt-fins-frogman  

PERFORMANCE

UDTs are either loved or hated by bodysurfers. You could say that the entire evolution of swim fin technology over the past 50 years has been an effort to develop something lighter, more practical, and easier on the legs. But for those who swear by them, UDTs offer Poseidon-like power that more ergonomic designs simply can’t match. These are a must for big-wave riders.

BODYSURFING

surf-check-windansea-udt-fins

I unboxed mine at Windansea (above) and jumped right in. El Niño was pushing a swell of decent size, not the conditions I would have chosen to try out new gear. Immediately, I had to adjust my kick for the added length of blade. The weight on my feet gave me plenty of downward momentum when I put my toes to the sky to duck-dive.

When it comes to catching waves, there’s a lag between the time you start kicking and when the fins engage, but once you get moving you can catch anything.

UDTs are now my go-to in the big stuff. But their length makes pushing off the bottom into fun-sized shore-break a little awkward. If you’re an occasional bodysurfer or live somewhere with modest swell, I’d go with a pair of DaFins or Vipers.

FREE DIVING

Snell's-window

On a recent trip to Ireland, I wore them snorkeling. They were great for cruising along the surface, but when I dove to about ten meters, it became clear that fins have come a long way since the Truman administration. Much of the power the UDTs deliver comes from their stiffness, but that power comes at a price. Kicking with a stiff fin is exhausting and taxes your oxygen supply. Modern free diving fins have largely solved this problem and the new records in that sport speak for themselves.

An alternative to the latest gear is modifying the old stuff. Some divers customize their UDTs for free diving and spearfishing. They sand down the thick rails that give the fins their stiffness or cut the blades into a ‘V’ shape. The DIY approach is not only an act of recycling but a tribute to the legacy of the frogmen who earned their reputation by making do.

Voit UDTs retail for $60. I picked up mine at Mitch’s Surf Shop in La Jolla, California. You can also find them at Sea Craft Supply Co.

Images: Navy SEAL Museum,  SaeahLee Photography

Gear Review: WaterFi Waterproof iPod

Waterfi is the solution for anyone who gets bored swimming. Read my review at Action Life Magazine.

 

Waterfi--waterproof--ipod

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